Debate reverses roles

Republican Mitt Romney is acting like a challenger who feels he has enough momentum and time to overtake the president by Election Day, two weeks from now. Judging from Monday's final debate,
Associated Press
Oct 23, 2012

 

President Barack Obama almost seems to agree.

Obama was clearly the more aggressive combatant in the 90-minute forum, whacking Romney's personal investment record, truthfulness and overseas fundraising. Romney, meantime, went out of his way to blunt his differences with the president on several key foreign policy matters — supposedly the debate's focus — and to appear calm, moderate and non-threatening.

Romney's approach was one typically taken by front-runners: First, do no harm. Don't stir the pot. Keep the clock running.

Obama's forcefulness appeared chiefly aimed at discouraged Democrats who might not bother voting, rather than at the sliver of undecided voters in the handful of states still in play. Romney is not the benign, acceptable alternative he claims to be, Obama seemed to be saying, and I, your president, am finally willing to fight tooth and nail for a second term after sleepwalking through the first debate, which triggered Romney's rise in the polls.

"It's all get-out-the-vote now," said Matt Bennett, a veteran of Democratic campaigns. "If you're undecided now, you ain't voting."

"Obama will win the debate on points," Bennett said, "but it won't matter much."

A number of other Democrats shared that view. Interest in the third and final debate probably suffered, they said, from voter fatigue, competition from televised football and baseball games, and the official topic — foreign policy — in a campaign dominated by jobs and the economy.

These Democrats, however, don't necessarily think Obama will lose. Some feel Romney took a big gamble by being so tame in the final face-to-face encounter.

Obama still holds a slight edge in Ohio in most independent polls. It's the state that can almost seal the president's re-election if he holds it, because it would force Romney to sweep virtually every other contested state, including tough Wisconsin.

Romney's stay-the-course demeanor Monday points to confidence that his slight rise in the polls will continue, even if only a smidgen of voters are truly undecided. Democrats note that many thousands of people are already voting through early balloting programs in key states.

The election's outcome may turn on whether Obama's get-out-the-vote ground troops can outrun Romney's momentum. Polls show Romney doing considerably better among likely voters, as opposed to registered voters. That gives Obama's volunteers a chance to hunt down thousands of "soft supporters," and persuade them to get to a polling place.

From the debate's opening minutes, Romney showed no appetite for verbal fisticuffs. Moderator Bob Schieffer invited the former Massachusetts governor to critique Obama's handling of the fatal attack on a U.S. Consulate in Libya, a topic Romney had fumbled in the second debate, six days ago.

Romney showed no interest. Instead, he congratulated the president on the killing of Osama bin Laden, hoping to negate an Obama strong point as quickly as possible.

Throughout the evening, Romney continued a recent trend of moderating his foreign policy positions. He seemed bent on presenting himself as a sound commander in chief, even if it required him to narrow his differences with the president.

Romney offered unusual praise for Obama's war efforts in Afghanistan, declaring the 2010 surge of 33,000 U.S. troops a success and asserting that efforts to train Afghan security forces are on track to enable the U.S. and its allies to put the Afghans fully in charge of security by the end of 2014.

Romney said U.S. forces should complete their withdrawal on that schedule. Previously he has criticized the setting of a specific withdrawal date.

And on Iran, Romney mollified his previous criticism of Obama's sanctions policy. He stressed that resorting to war to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon would be a last option, softening the hawkish tone that had been a hallmark of his campaign.

Longtime GOP strategist Terry Holt defended Romney's soft touch.

"His first goal is to appear presidential," Holt said. "This is not a grand jury where all he has to do is indict. People are looking to him for presidential qualities. Cool, calm and clear."

Obama, by contrast, looked for every chance to criticize Romney on as many topics as possible.

"Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s," Obama said.

He chided Romney for having said Russia was America's greatest geopolitical foe. "The Cold War's been over for 20 years," Obama said.

"Presidents always have an advantage when debating foreign policy," said Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak. "Romney did well enough tonight to maintain his momentum and win this race."

Obama has 14 days to stop that momentum. He plunges in immediately Tuesday with events in Delray Beach, Fla., and Dayton, Ohio. On Wednesday and Thursday the president plans to campaign in Iowa, Colorado, California, Nevada, Florida, Virginia and Ohio.

Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, on Tuesday were headed to Nevada and Colorado. Romney planned to campaign Wednesday in Nevada and Iowa, and Thursday and Friday in Ohio.

Neither ticket can afford to write off the other competitive states. But Ohio seems destined to be the testing ground of whether Obama's tiny lead and big ground operation can hold off Romney's October momentum.

Comments

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

The 'point' is that Pres. Obama like Pres. Bush did not have prior knowledge of the terrorist attacks and anyone who supports that position is loony.

In Pres. Obama's case: What's the "official" story of what happened at Benghazi and why?

4shizzle

@ contango

Bush DID have a heads up about 911 and anyone who doesn't support that is loony

goofus

How could he, google Jamie Gorelick and the wall. Put in place by the clinton's to stop any further Monica Lewinskis from popping up!!!!!!

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

So Pres. Clinton is a loon?

4shizzle

@ contango

I don't think so.
Are you?

sanduskysteve

Oh but Prez Bush did have prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks - that has already been proven.

mikel

things are looking so good................"6:57PM EDT October 25. 2012 - Just when it looked as if the economy was upsizing, more companies are downsizing..."Companies in North America announced plans to cut more than 62,000 jobs since Sept. 1, says Bloomberg News. That's the biggest two-month slashing of jobs since the beginning of 2010...."There have been 40,671, 33,063 and 7,714 job cuts announced by the computer, transportation and insurance industries collectively this year through September, says Challenger Gray & Christmas. These are increases of 240%, 184% and 180% from the same periods last year...."Employees levied 1,316 mass layoff actions in September, 49 more than in August, affecting 122,462 workers, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Mass layoffs are those that affect 50 workers or more."

who would have thunk it after listening to all the dems on here praising the messiahs unemployment numbers!

4shizzle

@ mikel

You would think that for all the tax breaks the rich have, they would be keeping their employees.
Trickle down (your leg) economics works, right? Not.

mikel

stop buying chinese products and start buying american shizzy and save a job!

4shizzle

@ mikel

Well, then the rich don't need any more tax breaks, it's all China's fault.

Why does big business ship in and sell Chinese products in the USA?

(I'll bet you buy Chinese stuff and you probably drive a foreign vehicle.)

mikel

yes, some items i buy are made from all over the world. sometimes the options are small. drive a '08 dodge..'06 chev..'91 dodge. i don't claim the '08 and '06 to be american made as the parts are mostly from oversea's vendors.

it is the fault of ALL big business.

4shizzle

Im shocked, we agree.
It's difficult to buy American goods for the simple fact that American jobs have been shipped overseas.
That's one of the reasons we don't have jobs,jobs, jobs.

mikel

once in a blue moon..lol

mikel

scary to think, under prezo's admin, that there is such little disregard for american lives starting with the law enforcement officer gunned down with weapons used from the failed "fast & furious" program run by prezo's boy eric holder.

now this regarding ambassador stevens..."Former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods was part of a small team who was at the CIA annex about a mile from the US Consulate where Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team came under attack. When he and others heard the shots fired, they informed their higher-ups at the annex to tell them what they were hearing and requested permission to go to the consulate and help out. They were told to "stand down," according to sources familiar with the exchange. Soon after, they were again told to "stand down." ..read more at: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/int...

what a shame! who can he blame this on?

sanduskysteve

Hmmm - Fast and Furious can be blame on the person who created it in the first place - Mr. Bush. No information regarding the other issues you mentioned, but I'm sure that Obama did not give the "stand down" order if it really went that way - wouldn't that have been someone in charge of those troops? Really, talk about disregard for American lives - Iraqi War comes to mind there.

mikel

it seems that when things go bad it is someone else's fault and not that of prezo. steve, prezo was in charge at the time fast & furious was implemented. it was an extension of a bush program. which just goes to show that prezo has done nothing but extend the same programs you whine about. also, prezo was in charge when the border patrol agent was killed, not bush.

waste of lives, vietnam? a dem started fiasco.

eriemom

@Smith: Stop playing games and respond to
sanduskysteve
THU, 10/25/2012 - 7:34PM

What do you know about Steve Ratner's work with the auto bailout and TARP? How did the $350 million get from TARP and Delphi pensions to Romney and friends?

eriemom

OK, so the post shows up now.

4shizzle

.

Contango

@ eriemom:

Reply to ss?

So the "official" "9/11 Commission Report" is wrong and ss is right?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9/1...

Truthers are loony, Pres. Clinton said as much.

I've never written that Pres. Obama had prior knowledge, only that the stonewalling and "cover-up" are bizzare.

BTW: How do you know that bin Laden wasn't killed at Tora Bora and the seals only executed a "double"? Why no "official" pictures?

Contango

IMO, the "cover-up" of: "What did he know and WHEN did he know it" is NOW the story.

Imagine six wks. after 9.11 and the Bush Admin. was stonewalling with the narrative that they were still assessing.

On Oct. 7th, four wks later, the U.S. attacked Afghanistan.

Benghazi was Mr. Obama's 9.11 moment to demonstrate leadership and not surprisingly he's blown it.

He's shown that his re-election is more important than telling the American people the truth.

☭ FORWARD SOVIET! ☭

4shizzle

@ contango

Do you REALLY believe that Romney is telling the truth ???

bullydogs1971

do you believe these two jokers??? War! War! War! Why do i have only two choices??? Oh wait i don't!!! but the corporate run media doesn't want you to know that....this is the same corporate thugs who run the two jokers you see here.

There is another choice..... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5...

Contango

@ bullydogs1971:

Why is it that we have to watch Russian Television to get alternative viewpoints?

bullydogs1971

yes it is sad we have to turn to Russian television to get the truth about what our own country is all about.

bullydogs1971

It's all B.S. and it's bad for ya.....George Carlin...god rest his soul....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m...

bullydogs1971

It's all B.S. and it's bad for ya.....George Carlin...god rest his soul....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m...

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